To Piece or Not to Piece-A Story about Quilt Backs

This weekend I’ve been putting together quilt backs. It’s not as glamorous or exciting as making quilt tops but it has to be done, right? 

I have friends who buy 108” fabric for quilt backs and I’d probably be smarter to do that too but I like to piece my backs. It takes longer, sure, but I like the scrappier look (of course) and it satisfies my personal quilting rule of working from my scrap buckets first, my stash second, and only buying fabric for a current project in an emergency.

I do buy fabric – lots of it – but usually only when it’s on sale or I find it at a thrift store or yard sale. When I do buy it at a store, my go-to quantity is one yard. If I really like it, I’ll buy two or three yards, but that’s not usually enough for a quilt back. So, I piece.

My process goes like this…

1) I lay my quilt top on the floor or a bed. If it’s the floor, my dog lays on it. If it’s the bed, the cat hops on.

2) I start with any leftover blocks or fabric from the quilt top  and arrange those over my quilt. It’s like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle.

3) Depending on the size of the gaps I need to fill, I pull from my scrap buckets or my stash.

4) I don’t try to do any math or precise piecing here. I just aim to have a back that’s a couple of inches larger than the top on all sides. If I’m sending it to a long-armer, I’ll ask how much overage she requires and aim for that amount. Ish. Like I said, I don’t go for perfection here. The outer edges will get trimmed off at the end anyway.

5) If I’m not trying to use leftovers from the quilt top, I’ll sew together two or three pieces of yardage from my stash. Each quilt is different, but I’m almost always pleased with the end product. I end up with two quilts in one, and isn’t that efficient!

How do you make quilt backs? I’d love to hear your process.

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